AAFACA Roundtable Series: a chat with GREENLEAF’S Lynn Whitfield and Keith David

Lynn Whitfield (Lady Mae) and Keith David (Bishop Greenleaf) Courtesy of OWN/Photographer: Guy D’Alema

Everything has an expiration date. A line from the final scene in last year’s season four finale of the hit TV show GREENLEAF. The line is spoken to Grace Greenleaf (Merle Dandridge), a character we’ve watched go from the prodigal daughter of the first episode to the faithful daughter and leader of Calvary Fellowship, now Harmony & Hope Ministries (those who watch know!).

We’ve watched the family struggles, some managed and some evaded by matriarch and patriarch Lady Mae and Bishop Greenleaf (Lynn Whitfield and Keith David), rooted and wished an ending for both the relationships of Charity and Kevin (Deborah Joy Winans and Tye White) and her brother and sister-in-law Jacob and Kerissa (Lamman Rucker and Kim Hawthorne), and wished that someone might better discipline (aka give a good slap) to the latter’s teen Zora (Lovie Simone) and Grace’s sometimes on point, yet questionable in her recent actions, teen Sophia (Desiree Ross).

With all the show’s polish, well flushed out story lines, fashion, star cameos, and great music, the one thing that has remained abundantly clear is at its root – the authentic display of faith and Christianity even in tough circumstances.

According to creator/head writer Craig White, that was specifically the intent. After a conversation with Oprah Winfrey – who’s OWN network airs the series and who had a prominent role in its first season – where they both discussed their own religious experiences, White expressed,

“We declared early on that our intention with this show was to lovingly and respectfully interrogate the black church, not to tear it down at all but to make it even better by asking tough questions. We both had experiences where we tried to ask more questions than people wanted to answer.”

So, it was an all out joy for me to join my AAFCA family in its latest roundtable with two of the series most iconic cast members, veteran actors Lynn Whitfield and Keith David, where they discussed everything about the show, it’s fifth aka final season and then some – and they both contributed part of that realism I mentioned earlier to White’s experiences as an ordained minister.

Take a listen to the interview below (check me out around the 44 minute mark) and you can watch the season 5 premiere of GREENLEAF tomorrow night at 9pm est on OWN. What? Haven’t seen the other seasons? No worries, just head on over to Netflix where the first four seasons are streaming now in their entirety.

PS: I watched season 5 episode 1 (click here to view trailer) and, if you’re anything like me, you will still want to choke out… excuse me discipline Charity and Kerissa, wonder will those teens ever get it together, yet still wish the best and all to end well for the entire Greenleaf clan (Hint: get those tissues ready, you might need them at the episode’s end)!

Until next thought, Thomasena

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